Entry #2663, July 18, 2013
Our garages often become the dumping ground for everything we can’t fit into the rest of our house. With its extra storage space, it’s enticing to pile everything into the garage — which can quickly become overwhelmed with a sea of stuff. When cluttered with boxes, bags and various unused items, your garage can pose a daunting clean-up task. Large items like unused boats and cars to boxes filled with Christmas ornaments need to be somehow disposed of or relocated. The time-consuming endeavor of uncluttering your garage doesn’t have to be exhausting, though — it can actually be a fun and satisfying process. By following these six steps, you can reclaim your clear and spacious garage.
1. Be Aware of the Big Picture
When starting any home-improvement project, take care of the big things first and leave the details until later. While uncluttering your garage may not involve any new construction or carpentry, it certainly classifies as a home-improvement project. With this in mind, you’ll be faced with the biggest items cramping and cluttering your garage. For many people, this will include vehicles sitting idle or in need of repair. Cars and boats are common culprits here — they can often linger for years, taking up space. What can you do about it? Let’s use an old boat as an example. You can:
- List the boat for sale
- Find a friend to take the boat off your hands
- Find a new spot to store the boat while you repair it
- You can also donate boat to charity
Once you get rid of the biggest items in your garage, you will be one step closer to a fabulous new space.
2. Properly Prepare to Carry Out Clutter
Chances are you will underestimate the sheer volume of stuff you’ll want to dispose of or give away. Whatever you choose to do with your extra items, you’ll need a way to transport them. Your car may not be adequate — you’ll need to make too many trips. Borrow or rent an appropriately sized pick-up truck or moving van. With the right vehicle, you can take away your unwanted items in one trip.
3. Have Space to Spread It Out
As you remove items from your cluttered garage, you’ll need space to spread them out to take inventory. What is essential to keep? What do you want to throw away or donate? Create three designated spaces on your driveway or front lawn to organize items into these three categories. Prepare the space before you start the process or you’ll end up with another impenetrable pile of clutter.
4. Get Serious About Your Garage Organization Needs
This is, perhaps, the most essential part of uncluttering any space: Determine what is essential and what is not. A general rule of thumb when determining whether to keep or toss an item is to ask yourself whether or not you use it. If the answer is no, get rid of it. It’s quite simple, but we tend to hold on to things “for a rainy day” that never comes. You can also make a list of essential items you need in your garage. These can include important tools, emergency supplies and keepsakes. Once you determine your needs, you can identify other items as being in the category of “wants.” The key to a clutter-free space is to minimize the items in that respective category.
5. Go Vertical with Garage Storage
Garages have limited storage space that can be maximized by using the vertical plane. This means either investing in sturdy wall-shelving units or stackable crates. Both options use your garage’s side walls and provide ample storage space for most items. By investing in stable vertical storage units, you can know exactly how much space you’ll have and create a storage system in which everything has a place. With vertical shelving or stacking storage, it’s important to use labels. The combination of vertical storage and clear labeling will be a breath of fresh air every time you step into your organized garage.
6. Make Rules for Future Garage Use
It is said prevention is the best medicine, and this is true for your newly uncluttered garage as well. To prevent clutter from building up again, make a list of rules for what you will — and won’t — store in your garage. Post the rules somewhere visible and avoid your previous storage habits that led to the cluttered situation. Some rules may include the following:
- Only store items in labeled and organized spaces
- Do not store items you will never use
- Create a designated box in your garage for items you will donate monthly including, clothing and household goods
About the Author: Renatta Harper is an interior designer and professional organizer. She delights in helping families make the most of limited storage space.
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